The Billionaire's Oasis
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The world has been cruel and dreadful to Cleo Remington ever since her father died. She was compelled to leave their province and work her fingers to the bone just to make ends meet. Life is indeed full of unexpected surprises, because in a fortuitous way, her path will cross with Zaccheus Garren Montreal, one of the youngest and most successful business tycoons in town. He's the epitome of power and dominion. A man who has the world wrapped around his fingers. When Cleo met him, she etched it in her mind to keep her distance from him. Aside from the fact that his rude, blunt, and unfeeling attitude ticks her off, their first encounter was, without a doubt, horrible. But how can she avoid him when they are living under the same roof and breathing the same air?
Chapter 1: HER MISERIES
CLEO’S POINT OF VIEW
The convivial atmosphere greeted me as soon as I stepped inside the bar. From the lazy spin of the fans, to the sprawled light of eventide that will soon be starlit black, the place soaks in the ambiance of the exuberant night.
I wasted no time and hurriedly went inside the room designated for us workers and changed my clothes.
"Order on table number eight, Cleo."
I nodded and grabbed the tray filled with liquors and chips from Erick, one of my co-workers.
"Here are your orders, Ma'am and Sir. Enjoy your stay." I smiled at the customers.
I've been a waitress at Obsidian, a Resto Bar, for almost five months now. This has become my work ever since I decided to leave Arranmore, our province.
It was a tough decision. I didn't want to flee from the place where I bloomed and thrived. But I was left with no choice. I had to make sacrifices.
"Cleo, table number one."
I was pulled out of my reverie when Erick called my name. I heaved a deep sigh and continued working.
"There's an order on table fifteen."
"Follow up order on eight."
"Give this to table number ten."
I gulped down a glass of water and puffed a heavy breath. I feel like I will pass out at any moment.
It's already ten in the evening, and people still keep on pouring in. That means our torture is unceasing.
I turned around when I heard Callie, our manager, calling me.
"Leave those tables, I need you to serve our VIP customers."
My forehead creased. "Where are the others?"
"Erick's shift ended, he left already. The others are also busy."
I want to refuse because I'm literally soaking in sweat right now and I look like an absolute shit, but she left before I could even utter a word.
I sighed. "I guess I have no choice."
I headed to the kitchen and returned the cleaning materials that I used. I washed my hands and abruptly fixed my appearance.
"Here. Bring this on VIP room number three." Callie handed me their orders.
There are five VIP rooms available in Obsidian. Those rooms are intended for people who want a more peaceful atmosphere while they are drinking.
Despite my reluctance, I got the trays containing an ice bucket and beers. There are also platters of chips on the side. I carried the trays towards the second floor where the VIP room are situated. I turned the knob of the door- that I instantly regretted.
Two motherfuckers are fucking their brains out on the couch. The woman is grinding on the man's lap while the latter is busy on marking her neck.
My poor eyes don't deserve to witness such revolting scene. I feel so violated and harassed.
"Oh God, that feels so good."
My cheeks flushed when she moaned out of the sudden. I averted my gaze and muttered several expletives.
I'm not an innocent person, but for Pete's sake, I didn't wish to witness live porn!
I faked a cough because it seems like they still haven't noticed my presence. And it was effective because finally, they stopped.
"I'm sorry for the disturbance, but here are your orders."
The woman turned to me. I saw how she rolled her eyes and muttered something that I chose to ignore.
Without waiting for their words, I placed the trays on the table across them.
"Just press the buzzer if you need anything more. Have fun."
My eyes accidentally met the man's gaze, and my heart leaps when I saw his ice-cold expression. That pair of orbs are void of any emotions.
It was only a fleeting moment, but I was able to recognize the majestic aura of nobility that he exudes. His deep-set features stood boldly on his stoic face. His deep-set eyes, aristocratic nose, slightly-furrowed eyebrows, and prominent jawline scream power and nobility.
I looked away when I realized that I've been staring at him for quite a long time already.
I don’t want to sow an erroneous assumption on him.
A great sense of relief filled my chest when I finally left the room.
"Cleo, are you okay?"
I threw Callie a quick glance. "I am. Why did you ask?"
"Your cheeks are so red, so I thought you've got a rashes or something."
I nibbled my lower lip. I'm blushing because I can still remember that hideous scene I've found when I entered that damn VIP room.
I feigned a smile. "I'm good. Don't worry about me."
She shrugged her shoulders. "If you say so."
I'm glad that she didn't push the topic further. I don't want to slip on my own tongue and tell her that I almost saw some bastards having sex.
I shook my head and drive those thoughts away.
After my shift ended, I went to the apartment where I'm currently living, which is only a few blocks from the Resto Bar where I work.
I greeted Mrs. Evelyn, the tenant of the apartment, before I went upstairs. She's already used to me going home late because of my job. Luckily, we have no curfew.
I keyed the door and turned the lights on inside my room. I lazily tossed my bag and let myself fall on the bed.
My phone inside the pocket of my jeans rang out of the sudden. I fished it out, and a smile ran across my lips when I saw my brother's name.
"It's almost eleven in the evening and you're still awake." I shammed a strict voice.
Archeus chuckled on the other line. "Stop it, Cleo. Being strict doesn't suit you at all."
I scoffed. "Whatever. But you haven't answered my question yet. Why are you still awake?"
"I'm studying. We have an exam on Physics tomorrow."
"That's good to hear. Ace your test, Arch."
I suddenly miss them. It's been almost a year, but I'm still not used to this melancholic feeling.
Archeus is my younger brother. He's currently a grade nine student, and I'm proud to say that he's one of the achievers in their class. The blood, sweat and tears that I'm bringing into play is worth it.
"How are you, Cleo?"
My brother's question snapped me out of my trance.
"I'm doing good. I actually just arrived from work when you called."
"Don't push yourself too much. You would hear an earful from mama if she learned that you're stressed because of your work."
I laughed. "You don't need to lecture me. Where is she anyway?"
"She's sleeping right now."
"Did she drink her medications already?"
"Yes.... Actually, that's one of the reasons why I called."
There was a brief moment of silence between the two of us. I can hear the sounds of crickets on the other line, and it's giving me a sense of nostalgia. I miss the silent and tranquilizing night on our province. The sounds of crickets. The whisper of winds.
I rarely feel that kind of serendipity here on Merrion. The city is occupied with traces of cosmopolitan; colossal buildings and establishments, noises from cars and the busy street.
"Arch, I'm waiting."
I heard him sigh.
"Her medication is running out, and I need to buy her new tablets next week."
I closed my eyes and knead my head.
Aside from supporting Archeus' study, this is one of the major reasons why I have decided to fly to the city- even though I didn't really want to.
My mother was diagnosed with a stage three Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) more than a year ago, only a few months after my father's death.
It was a huge setback on our lives. We were buried in debt and underwent financial suffering. The income that we earned from the portion of land that we leased is scarcely enough for our daily necessities.
That's what forced me to find a job outside our province- to earn money for her treatment. CKD can't be cured, but a patient who was diagnosed with this disease might have a longer life expectancy through dialysis, which costs an arm and a leg.
And being the breadwinner of our family, I was left with no choice but to take a risk.
I didn't want to... but I had to.
"Cleo? Are you still there?"
I took a deep breath. "Y-Yeah. Sorry for spacing out. Anyway, aside from Mom's medication, what else do you need?"
"Uh, nothing. That's all."
I rolled my eyes. "Come on, Arch. I know you too well from every strand of your hair to the smell of your fart. And I know that you're lying to me right now."
"You're so disgusting!”
I can already imagine his crumpled face.
"Whatever. Just answer my question."
"I said nothing-"
"Archeus Saphiro Remington."
He hissed, but didn't dare to retaliate. He knows that I'm dead serious the moment I call him by his full name.
"Fine. We have a science congress this coming month, and I kind of want to join, but it requires a money so maybe I'll pass-“
"Join that event." I cut his words with conviction. "I will send you the money as soon as possible. Goodnight, Arch."
I didn't wait for his response and pressed the end button. I knew that he would convince me not to do that and we'd end up having an argument.
While staring at the ceiling, I reflected on my current situation. The suffering that I endured for the past few years compelled me to confront life in a different way.
I know how cruel this world could be. Hence, I learned how to be tough in this ferocious jungle called life where only the red-blooded can survive.
I heaved out a deep sigh and pulled the blanket over my body. I need to stop letting those gloomy thoughts plug my mind, or else I will crumble down.
The last thing that I saw before I close my eyes is the jagged streak of light that passed through my window.
Chapter 2: THE PROPOSAL
The sun seeping through the window of my room awakened me. I pulled myself up, and a curse fell out of my lips when my head throbbed painfully. When I thought that it was already bad, my stomach growled.
That's when I realized that I hadn't eaten anything since last night.
Headache and hunger- the perfect way to kill yourself.
Without washing my face, I dashed towards the fridge, and my shoulders fell down when I saw that it was empty. I still haven't bought a stock of frozen foods. Fortunately, there are still canned goods left in my small pantry.
While waiting for the rice to cook, I'm drinking the coffee that I made, its warmth helps to at least alleviate the pain.
I rubbed my bleary eyes and walked to the window to open the curtains. There was a pearly glow in the sky. The warm breeze fondled on my face and the melodic birdsong drifted in.
I rubbed my bleary eyes and walked to the window to open the curtains.There was a pea
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